Hilarious songs end a ‘top-notch’ concert

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Tasman Soloists… offered songs from the serious to the highly comical. Photo: Peter Hislop

Music / The Tasman Soloists, Wesley Music Centre, April 7. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.

PERFORMING at the Wesley Music Centre the Tasman Soloists in a sublime selection of music for tenor voice, French horn and piano offered songs from the serious to the highly comical.

In the Tasman Soloists are Kent McIntosh, tenor; Rob Johnson, French horn; and Sharolyn Kimmorley, piano.

Beginning with the “Fantasie on themes from G. Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor”, by Franz Strauss, who was the father of the more famous Richard, Franz was a highly regarded horn player of his day. This piece stood out clearly on the piano but when the horn came in some notes got lost in the piano’s sound. Shortly after, that changed when Johnson moved to the left of the piano. The sad emotional tunes never got lost in this piece though.

Then for Benjamin Britten’s folk song arrangement of “The Sally Gardens”, the tall and sharply presented tenor Kent McIntosh, who sung without score had a magnificent range of volume from the quietest whisper to a bursting fortissimo. His commanding stage presence combined with a playful sensitivity was on full display in another of Britten’s songs “The Choirmasters Burial”, which was a highly innovative work.

The sublime music of “Silent Noon”, by Ralph Vaughan Williams was handled with a moving empathy in this mysterious song of love by the tenor and faultlessly accompanied by Kimmorley on piano.

Then more Britten, this time his extraordinary “Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings”. The strings were played by the piano in this six-part serenade. The combination of all the voices in this dramatic work that covered a wide range of styles was rendered beautifully by the three performers. This tricky and eclectic piece is a masterwork of flair and ingenuity.

For the last song, a sonnet by the romantic poet John Keats. In its dark and bright colours, the contemporary style with its highly mysterious and dramatic construction ended when from off stage, Johnson on his horn played out a mournful coda to this powerful work.

After a short break, it was a selection of favourite songs from various genres and periods. They performed “Take a pair of Sparkling Eyes”, (The Gondoliers) by W. S. Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan, “O Sole Mio” by Eduardo di Capua, which McIntosh sounded out with incredible dynamic. Then “You are my Heart’s Delight” by Franz Lehar and “Auf Dem Strom” by Franz Schubert.

To finish, “Ill Wind” with lyrics by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, which is played to the final movement of Mozart’s “Horn Concerto No. 4 in E flat”, K. 495. McIntosh performed with full-on pantomime movement and colour as the tenor and horn musically chased each other around, while the piano tinkled along brightly in the middle. This hilarious performance topped off a top-notch concert.

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